Monday, October 6, 2014

Dairy Goodness Great Cream Challenge - Fall Harvest Veggie Challenge: Creamy Vegetable Gratin

Another year of the Dairy Goodness Great Cream Challenge has come to an end for me. Although I have been participating in the Great Cream Challenge for the past few years, this year was particularly special for me, getting to showcase not one, but three cream-filled recipes! Participating in the challenge is always a blast, but there's really nothing like getting to say you've WON a challenge! I felt so lucky to have won the Comforting Mac & Cheese Challenge with my Fresh Onion Mac & Cheese, and to have come so very close this time around in the Fall Harvest Veggie Challenge with my Creamy Vegetable Gratin (701 votes ain't too shabby!).
When coming up with my recipe for this past months challenge, I wanted to come up with something that utilized an assortment of different Fall harvest veggies, but was also incredibly comforting. With scalloped potatoes being one of my favourite Fall comfort foods (my mom makes it every Thanksgiving!), I wanted to make my own version of that, but kicked up using an array of different vegetables like sweet potatoes, zucchini, carrots, and even a layer of sautéed kale! I give you my Creamy Vegetable Gratin
I loved all of the different layers of flavour that goes into this dish, with the star ingredient, cream, along with gruyere and parmesan cheese acting as the creamy glue to hold the casserole all together. This dish would be a fantastic addition to your family's Thanksgiving meal coming up this weekend! Give it a try and let me know how it goes! 

Tip: Cut down on prep time by slicing all of the vegetables excluding the Yukon Gold potatoes in advance! 

2 tbsp butter, divided (plus more for greasing the baking dish)
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced divided
10 large leaves of kale (curly or black), chopped small
salt and white pepper to season
2 cups 35% cream
1/2 onion, make sure the root is still intact
1 bay leaf
4 cloves
3 sprigs thyme, divided
1 large sweet potato, peeled and thinly sliced
2 large Yukon Gild potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup shredded Gruyere 
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 medium yellow zucchini (summer squash), thinly sliced lengthwise 
3 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced lengthwise
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs 

  1. Heat a large sauté pan to medium heat. Add 1 tbsp butter. When butter is melted and begins to foam, add the shallot and sweat. Add 1 minced garlic clove and cook until fragrant (20-30 seconds). Add the kale and reduce to medium-low. Cook until kale until wilted, tossing occasionally. Season with salt and white pepper and set aside.
  2. While the kale is cooking, prepare the cream. Pour the cream into a small saucepan and set to medium heat. Cut a slit into the half piece of onion and stick a bay leaf inside. Poke the cloves into the onion and submerge in the cream along with 1 sprig of thyme. Right when steam begins to come off of the cream, remove from heat, remove onion  with spices and herbs, and set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 400º. Butter and 11x7-inch glass baking dish and add a spoonful of the flavoured cream mixture. Add 1 layer of sweet and yukon gold potatoes, making sure to lightly overlap the slices. Season lightly with salt and white pepper, and drizzle in some of the cream. Top with a light layer of Gruyere and Parmesan. Repeat process of layering in different slices of vegetables (a different vegetable on each layer), seasoning, and adding cream and cheese until vegetables reach the middle of the dish. Add the kale mixture to make the middle layer of the casserole, and repeat the vegetable, seasoning, cream, and cheese layering process until the vegetables reach the top of the baking dish.
  4. Melt the remaining butter in a small bowl in the microwave. Add in the remaining minced clove of garlic, the leaves from the remaining thyme sprigs, and panko breadcrumbs. Toss to coat. Sprinkle on top of the layered vegetables, along with any remaining cheese. Bake for about 60-minutes or until tender when pierced with a knife. Serve immediately.

Listening To:
Fleetwood Mac - Rhiannon Live 1976 (Stevie SLAYS this performance!)

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